CHENNAI: The free breakfast scheme for all government school students from Classes I to V, announced by Chief Minister MK Stalin in May, will be launched on a trial basis at schools in 292 village panchayats across 15 districts. After the first phase is complete, the scheme will then be implemented in all schools.
Preparations for the same have begun, sources at the School Education Department said. The scheme was finalised based on a public health study on the alarming trends of malnourished children in the State. It is designed to help children grow strong and healthy.
"The cooking will begin by 5:30 am and will be finished by 7:45 am. Breakfast will be served between 8:15 am and 8:45 am on all working days of the school," said an official from the school education department.
The department has been working in tandem with the social welfare department to implement the pilot project. They might also tie up with NGOs for the purpose.
Teachers and parents welcome move
"Most students come to school without having breakfast. They walk long distances in the scorching sun and by the time they reach, they are exhausted. An alarming number of children swoon in the morning hours due to dehydration and malnutrition," said K Priya, a government school teacher from T Nagar.
Concurring with that, RK Babu, an education rights activist said the scheme would also ensure good attendance as many children would turn up to the school to have breakfast. "Nutritious breakfast is important for cognitive development. There are scores of parents who send their children to school just so they get access to the mid-day meal. This will be an added advantage," he said.
This was one of the five schemes announced by the CM to mark the completion of one year of the DMK government.